Yes, believers are permitted by the teachings of the New Testament to consume blood. Consuming blood was restricted under the Noahic Covenant and in the Law of Moses, but Jesus death and resurrection caused all the dietary laws of the Old Testament to be done away with and the New Testament does not give any new ones. Therefore, if your conscience allows it, you are permitted to consume the blood of animals.
God’s Original Intent For Restricting Blood Consumption
- Noahic Covenant: Before God destroyed the earth through the flood, He gave mankind plants to eat as food, but after the flood God restarted sinful mankind with Noah and his family whom He saved on the ark. God blessed them saying that plants and animals could both be used as food, but God restricted them from eating the flesh with its life—or the blood. It would seem then that God wanted mankind to have a certain reverence or respect for life. God chose blood as the symbol for life, thus, He probably restricted its consumption as common food so it wouldn’t loose its sacred meaning.
- The Law of Moses: God chose the children of Israel as His chosen people and as such they entered into covenant with Him and were to follow His law and ordinances. They were to be set apart as a holy people different from those around them who served false gods. Part of the law permitted them to kill and eat the flesh of animals but they were first to pour the blood upon the earth as water to avoid eating it. The reason was the same as that of the Noahic Covenant, but it also included that the blood, because it was a symbol for life, would be given to them to make an atonement for their souls upon the altar. Therefore, blood was only to be used for atoning for sin because only it could.
Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Leviticus 17:11, 14, 19:26; 2 Chronicles 29:24; Hebrews 9:22
- Another possible reason (although the Bible doesn’t mention it) that God restricted eating blood or meat with blood (meaning that it is not fully cooked) might have been for health reasons. Undercooked meat or blood could contain some kind of diseases or make you sick. Therefore, the restriction might have been to make sure they didn’t eat anything raw or undercooked which would have decreased the risk of foodborne illness.
The New Testament Voids The Restriction Of Blood Consumption
- Jesus death on the cross changed everything, including the restriction on consuming blood. Jesus death on the cross ended the necessity of sacrifices for sin and it was Jesus life or His blood that made it possible for our sins to be fully atoned for, once and forever. The blood which represented life and atonement for sin all pointed to Jesus, but now that Jesus has come, the symbols are no longer need. The Lord has given us a new symbol, the Lord’s Supper—which is eating the bread and drinking of the cup to remember Jesus and what He did for us, and to show forth His death until He comes again.
Colossians 2:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34; Hebrews 10:10-14
- Now, all believers are in Christ and there is no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles; another reason all the food laws are no longer necessary. All food restrictions, including but not limited to consuming blood, have been done away with in the New Testament. In the early church in the book Acts the Gentile believers were urged to not eat blood (and other restrictions) so they wouldn’t offend the Jewish believers who had no custom of consuming blood, thus it was contrary to their conscience, and because they associated it with idol worship. Of course believers are not to participate in any kind of pagan, idol or false god worship, but even eating meat that was offered to idols isn’t wrong unless it violates your conscience—meaning you see it as wrong or as participating in their sin. Therefore, as believers, it is only wrong to eat something when it violates our conscience, because “we believe that it is wrong, but we do it anyway.”
Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10:9-15; 15:20; Romans 14:14
We Live By Faith And For God’s Glory
- As believers, we live by faith and grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We allow the Bible to change our conscience and culture. Therefore, by faith, we are permitted to eat anything. Not every believer understands this truth or some have a weaker conscience concerning eating blood or certain foods, therefore they may, by faith, restrict their diet. Either way, we should not judge or despise each other. To eat blood or to abstain from eating blood are both permitted in the New Testament and neither are wrong.
Romans 14:1-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
- As believers, we sometimes have to limit our freedom so that we don’t offend other believers in an unloving way. The freedom to enjoy our appetites are secondary when it comes to righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We first seek for peace and then we can enjoy our rights. It we go forward knowingly and purposefully offending our brothers in Christ because we eat certain foods they think is wrong, then they are going to view our gospel as evil and possibly hurt their faith. If we know eating a certain type of food will offend a person to such a degree, then we shouldn’t eat it in their presence. It is no longer wrong to eat blood, but we don’t want to be offensive.
- As believers, we are to eat with thanksgiving, knowing that it all comes from the Lord and we do it all to the glory of God.
1 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 10:31
- As believers, we should be separated from the world and be known as Jesus’ disciples by our love, not because we consume or abstain from blood.
Answers To Tough Questions
- Why do some Christians say they can’t eat blood today if the Bible says it is okay? Believers have misunderstood the Bible’s teaching through reading Old Testament verses and some verses in Acts out of their context or hearing someone incorrectly teach on it, thus their conscience is pricked and it keeps them from consuming blood. Today, you are allowed to consume blood, but you are not required to.
- Was the restriction in the Bible against eating blood meant to last forever? No, this restriction ended after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Why did God restrict blood consumption?
- How does the New Testament void the restriction of blood consumption?
- What should define believers?
- Can believers eat blood?
- When should believers not eat blood?