Q: I was asked by a friend why Adventists don’t eat pork and other foods we consider as unclean, while 1 Timothy 4:4 states that nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. How would you explain this verse? — Raymundo, Philippines
A: To understand 1 Timothy 4:4, let’s look at the previous verses as well:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:1-4).
As Pastor Mark Finley points out in his excellent book “What the Bible Says About” (p. 259), this passage is describing people in the last days who depart from the biblical faith and are teaching two main errors — forbidding marriage and abstaining from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.
He further explains: “Throughout the centuries, certain ascetics, monks, and priests have declared the world to be evil. Both marriage and food are created by God.”
Pastor Finley writes that the Greek word for “foods” in 1 Timothy 4 is broma, which refers to food in general, not specifically to animals. He reminds us that it is the same word used in Genesis 1:29, which describes what God created in the Garden of Eden as food.
“God desires that His creatures heartily enjoy the food He has created for them,” Pastor Finley writes. “The issue here is not clean or unclean foods, but whether food itself is part of the material world and thus should be rejected as evil.”
I hope this is helpful as you share with your friend, Raymundo. If you’d like more information about our biblical beliefs regarding diet, health, and Christian behavior, visit: adventist.org/en/beliefs/living/christian-behavior/.