This is interpreted a couple of ways.
The phrase "thus he declared all foods to be clean" is an addition not in the
One view holds that Jesus only intended to explain the ritual nature of oral
and written unclean food rules (and, by implication, the breaking of the holy
food rules since holy foods just pass through the body, etc., as well). Un-
clean foods aren't inherently bad or inherently blameworthy--they just go
through the stomach. The motive to break any of the written laws, the will to
sin, comes from within--the heart.
This would be an established way of understanding the issue. At Lev. 11:43-
44, regarding the rule to not eat unclean animals, it says, "Do not defile your
One view has it that he just meant the oral tradition ritual of washing the
hands before eating, since they may have come into contact with unclean things,
was unnecessary. Jesus meant that food goes to the stomach and is then elimi-
nated, which purifies it enough.
Another view holds that Jesus declared the written unclean food rules to be
over. This view notes that, despite the confusion of his followers about it,
Jesus could have clarified what he meant about "nothing you put in your
mouth..." and say "We still have the written food rules--I'm just explaining
that personal responsibility comes from within and that unwashed hands won't
make your food unclean." At Matt.15:17 Jesus explains it to Peter by making
another broad statement about "everything you put in your mouth" as just food
that passes through you, which would include any foods eaten with unwashed
hands, which he says are okay to eat at Matt.15:20. This could be taken to mean
he declared all foods to be clean, as some translations add in parenthesis,
which could be what his confused followers wondered if he meant.
Not to choose, but by either the mainstream historical conservative view of
Jesus (God in human form) or the JWs leaders' one (archangel Michael in human
form, a mighty figurative god in representing God), sin is to disobey God. Je-
sus could refer to a change in written law by the Father, especially easily for
a ritual matter, and go on to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt.5:17-20)--
be true to God.
If this view is considered, Jesus' followers probably wouldn't have gotten
into trouble (except for ignoring oral traditions) about their eating habits
since they couldn't figure out what he meant, either (Mark 7:17,18; compare
post-crucifixion verses Acts 10:13-15). And Jesus would have avoided alienating
anyone over it by diplomatically avoiding unclean foods, anyway (compare post
crucifixion verses 1 Cor.9:3,4,19-23).
I won't force the choice, and all foods are clean after the crucifixion, any-
way. One interpretation would just bump that up sooner. Using either choice
won't make for a decisive factor in the final determination about the validity
of the JWs leaders' claim of a Biblical guarantee for their blood transfusion
Either way, Jesus' point about the ethically arbitrary, merely ritual nature
of the food rules can be taken into consideration when analyzing the later food
(GTW note: besides Jesus clarifying that his followers were taught devotion
to the written laws, not to oral traditions, he's not making a case against
good hygiene. The oral tradition about washing hands was a religious ritual.
You kids wash your hands before going to the supper table.)