The Mary T. and
Frank L. Hoffman
Letters and Responses
Letter from Carol Blair with a Bible Question About "Meat" - 5 Feb 2005
My husband and I have been vegetarians for over a year now and are really enjoying the lifestyle, amidst much scrutiny from friends and family. We have dealt with that okay, but I read something the other day in the Bible that really concerned and somewhat confused me. It's in 1st Timothy 4: 1-2 and the Kings James version (which was what was quoted in the somewhat "anti-vegetarian" website I had happened onto) talked about abstaining from "meat" like it was going against God's design. I know this is not the case, but am troubled by that translation of that verse. Can you shed any light on this verse? I would appreciate any help.
Reply from Frank and Mary Hoffman
Thank you for writing and for your question.
In the Greek, the word is not meat but food. Meat is an old English translation, but not the true intent of Paul, who wrote in Greek, because if he meant flesh, he would have used another word.
Paul is talking about legalism in the church which was destroying the harmony and love, and cautioning people not to get caught in these things. The problem was usually over the flesh of animals sacrificed to idols vs. the flesh of kosher killed animals, and had nothing to do with eating a vegetarian diet.
Don't let these modern day Pharisees bother you.
In the Love of the Lord,
Frank and Mary
Reply from Carol Blair
Dear Frank and Mary,
Thank you so much for your prompt reply to my question. Your response made me feel much better about the interpretation of this verse. Although I foresee many such issues of interpretation arising within the confines of the Southern Baptist Church I attend...some thinking that the King James Version was divinely inspired and if it said Meat, it means Meat! I will arm myself with the Greek translation to try to clarify it for anyone who tries to tell me that, according to the scriptures, I'm not fulfilling my Christian duty if I don't meat.
Regarding your comments on going vegan, we're almost there. The only animal products we consume are egg whites and honey. Although I may be able to learn to live without the egg whites, I don't think we can forgo the honey...we have a great bee-keeper friend, who brings us honey from happy bees...hope that's okay! thanks again,
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