I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Clean

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In Acts 10, when God declares all food to be clean, Peter does not reach the facile conclusion that God no longer cares for his health; the laws of uncleanness were never about health. Peter realizes instead that God declares all nations to be clean (10:28), i.e., that God is fashioning a new house for himself with no distinction between Jew and Gentile (10:34; compare Paul in Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc.). Not that Gentiles were never saved before, but there are no longer stages of separation between priest, Levite, Hebrew, and God-fearer (consider Psalm 118:2-4).

Mark has already revealed to us the same conclusion. Mark 7 carefully juxtaposes a story about ceremonial hand washing (7:1-23) with the story of the Syrophoenician woman (7:24-30):

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean. . . .

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (Mark 7:18-30 ESV)

Far from perpetuating the tradition of the elders here, Jesus is both testing the woman’s faith and subverting the tradition of the elders.

Thus he declared all nations clean.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Biblical Theology

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