Are you someone who has been questioning whether or not it is acceptable to eat meat based on what the Bible says? If so, then this post is for you!
Today, we will be exploring some of the key Bible verses about eating meat, helping to answer your questions and provide a biblical perspective.
Bible Verses about Eating Meat
As Christians, our faith is built on the foundation of the Word of God. The Bible has much to say about our physical and spiritual nourishment, including the topic of eating meat. Here are some Bible verses that speak about eating meat.
Eating Meat in the Old Testament
Eating meat in the Old Testament was a common practice and was symbolized by wealth and prosperity. Sheep, goats, and cattle were valuable possessions often sacrificed as offerings to God or eaten by the Israelites as food.
However, there were certain restrictions placed on the consumption of meat in the Old Testament. For example, animals that were considered unclean, such as pigs and camels, were prohibited from being eaten (Leviticus 11). In addition, the blood of animals was not to be consumed as it was seen as the life force of the animal and belonged to God (Leviticus 17:10-14).
The process of slaughtering animals for consumption was also regulated for a specific purpose. The animal must be killed in such a way as to drain all their blood and prevent the meat from becoming contaminated. This process was known as kosher slaughter, which is an important practice among the Israelites.
Furthermore, eating meat was often associated with religious rituals and ceremonies. The Passover feast, for example, required the sacrifice and consumption of a lamb (Exodus 12:3-14). The Israelites also offered animal sacrifices as a form of worship to God, with the meat being consumed by the priests and the people (Leviticus 1-7).
Overall, the Old Testament reveals that eating meat was a main aspect of the Israelites’ diet and religious practices. Restrictions and regulations regarding its consumption were intended to help them stay faithful to God’s commands and uphold their spiritual integrity.
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth.”
“When the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire. If the place that the Lord your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.”
“He causes the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”
Also Read: 25 Bible Verses About Respecting Your Body
Eating Meat in the New Testament
In the New Testament, eating meat is not as important a topic as it is in the Old Testament, but there are still some passages that mention it.
One of the main themes in the New Testament is looking after weaker believers who may fall away. In Romans 14, Paul addresses this issue by saying there’s nothing wrong with eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols but extra caution should be taken not to let others feel like they are taking part in idolatry as it could cause them to doubt and possibly lead to damage their faith. To avoid this situation, Paul proposes that if eating meat while a weaker believer is present could result in them questioning what they believe or feeling as though their beliefs have been compromised then abstaining from doing so would be preferable.
Another issue that comes up in the New Testament is that of gluttony. In Philippians 3:19, Paul warns of those whose “god is their belly,” and who live for the satisfaction of their appetites. Eating meat, or any food, in excess can lead to unhealthy habits and can become a form of idolatry if it takes the place of God in a person’s life. Additionally, overindulgence can lead to health problems, which can hinder a believer’s ability to serve God.
Overall, the New Testament does not focus on eating meat, but its underlying principles of wise judgment, caring for others, and avoiding excess are still applicable. As Christians, we should show respect to God by mindful and acceptable decisions in choosing our food as well as being responsible for the influence that these choices can have on other people.
“The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.'”
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.”
1 Corinthians 10:25-26
“Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.'”
1 Timothy 4:1-5
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.”
Christian Freedom and Meat-Eating
As Christians, we are called to live in freedom through Christ. This freedom is not just restricted to spiritual matters but also applies to the decisions that we make every day. Eating meat is one of these options. The Bible does not mention if meat-eating should be forbidden or approved of, yet it does offer us principles that can help us determine our choices on the matter.
At the core of Christian freedom is the understanding that responsibility comes with choice. We are free to make our own decisions, yet we must also be mindful of their consequences. In relation to eating meat, this means that we can enjoy it but should likewise contemplate the moral and ethical aspects connected to our consumption.
One way to approach this issue is through the lens of stewardship. The creation account in Genesis tells us that God gave Adam and Eve the task of taking care of the earth and its resources. As stewards, we are expected to use what God has provided responsibly and sustainably; meaning that we should be aware of how our meat production affects both animals’ welfare and also the environment.
Another important principle to consider is the concept of love for others. In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul addresses the issue of meat eating in the context of cultural differences and personal convictions. Paul encourages believers to refrain from causing their fellow believers to stumble in their faith by abstaining from meat if it causes offense. This principle of love for others reminds us that our choices shouldn’t be made independently, but with evaluation and consideration regarding how they could affect those around us.
Ultimately, the decision to eat meat is a matter of personal conviction and discernment. The Bible does not provide a clear answer but it does give us principles so we can make the right decision. We are called as Christians to responsibly use our freedom in consideration for how it affects others and God’s glory.
1 Corinthians 8:8
“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.”
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
1 Corinthians 10:29-30
“I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?”
“I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
Sacrificial Meat and Idolatry
In ancient times, sacrificing animals was a common part of religious practice for many cultures. People would offer up animals to their gods as an act of worship or in an attempt to gain favor from their deities. In some cases, the sacrificed animal’s meat would be consumed at a feast or ritual meal.
However, the Bible warns against participating in practices like consuming meat that was sacrificed to false gods. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded not to eat blood or meat from animals that had not been properly slaughtered and presented as an offering to God. This passage can be found in Leviticus 17:10-14 and it served as a reminder of how animals’ life belongs to God, worshiping Him through sacrificing them for the atonement of sin.
In the New Testament, the apostles also addressed the issue of consuming sacrificial meat. In Acts 15, the early church leaders met to discuss whether Gentile believers needed to observe the same dietary laws as Jewish believers. They agreed that while Gentiles did not need to follow all the Jewish dietary laws, they should abstain from consuming meat that had been offered to idols, along with blood and meat from strangled animals (Acts 15:28-29).
The apostle Paul also addressed the issue of sacrificial meat in his letters. In 1 Corinthians 10, he warned believers not to participate in idolatrous practices, including consuming meat sacrificed to false gods. He emphasized that such practices were not only spiritually dangerous, but also opened the door for demonic influence (1 Corinthians 10:18-21).
In Revelation, Jesus rebukes the church in Pergamum for tolerating false teachings and practices, including the eating of meat sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:14-15).
Overall, the Bible is clear on sacrificial meat and idolatry: believers should not partake in practices that involve eating meat sacrificed to false gods as those activities can be spiritually damaging and compromising. We should respect God with our bodies and decisions, always attempting to honor Him in all we do including what we eat.
“lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice,”
“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.”
“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
1 Corinthians 10:18-21
“Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”
“But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
The Bible contains several verses that address the topic of eating meat from different angles. While some verses emphasize the goodness of God’s creation and the freedom that believers have in Christ to enjoy it, others warn against the dangers of gluttony and the abuse of food.
Additionally, there are verses that caution against participating in idolatrous practices that involve consuming meat sacrificed to false gods. Ultimately, the Bible reminds us to be mindful of what we eat, to be grateful for God’s provision, and to seek wisdom and discernment in our dietary choices.
As with all things, we are called to honor God in our eating habits and to use our freedom responsibly, considering the well-being of others and the glory of God.