Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on davidwilber.me. Tabernacle of David considers this ministry trustworthy and Biblically sound.
Author: David Wilber
In the New Testament, the apostle Peter gives an interesting commandment to Christians. He says that we are to be “holy”:
But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
According to Peter, Christians are to be holy in all their conduct. But what does it mean to be holy? Well, since Peter appeals to the Scriptures as his authority (“it is written”), we can get some insight into what he means by looking at what he was reading. This command to “be holy” occurs a few times in the Torah, always in the midst of various commandments regarding how God’s people are to live. For instance, it occurs in Leviticus 19, which is essentially a list of commandments ranging from “honor your father and mother” to “love your neighbor as yourself”—things that all Christians would agree we should be doing today.
But remember, Peter said we are to be holy in all our conduct. With that in mind, this command to be holy actually appears in the context of another area of our lifestyle that perhaps many Christians don’t really think about—our diet! Indeed, here is another place in the Torah where the biblical imperative to “be holy” occurs:
For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten. (Leviticus 11:45-47)
This passage follows a list of qualifications that an animal must have in order to be permitted as food. Animals that meet the qualifications are considered “clean” and can be eaten, but animals that don’t are considered “unclean” and must not be eaten.
So being holy in all our conduct, according to Peter, would include being holy even in what we eat. That’s part of Peter’s definition of “holy.” (And if you’re thinking that God gave Peter a vision in Acts 10 in which He abrogates these commandments, you should know that Peter disagrees with that interpretation of the vision.)
What does this mean? It means that Christians ought to be following God’s dietary instructions found in Leviticus 11. For instance, we are not to eat what the Bible calls “unclean animals,” such as pork and shellfish.
This is something we really need to keep in mind as we read Peter’s first epistle. When many believers see Peter’s call to holiness, they already have their own preconceived understanding of what being holy means perhaps based on tradition. But our definition is not what matters; Peter’s definition is what matters. And his definition is based on the scriptures he quoted (Remember, “it is written”). His understanding of being holy included not eating unclean animals. Therefore, may we be holy in all our conduct—including what we eat.
This article was adapted from a video teaching I wrote for 119 Ministries called “Parashah Points: Shemini – Holy Food.”
About David Wilber
David is first and foremost a passionate follower of Yeshua the Messiah. He is also a writer, speaker, and teacher.
David’s heart is to minister to God’s people by helping them rediscover the validity and blessing of God’s Torah and help prepare them to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15)…