The question of eating blood goes right back to God’s instruction to Noah after the flood.

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:3-4)

This was repeated in the law given through Moses (e.g., Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:16,23).

In the New Testament, the early Christians had to decide what parts of the Israelite law would be required of non-Jews. Guided by the Holy Spirit, they determined that only four parts of the law were required; one of those four laws involved not eating blood.

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. (Acts 15:28-29)

There are mixed views on whether these four laws are still binding on Christians, even amongst the authors of this website.

View 1: Some see these rules as a concession to the Jews (Acts 15:19-21; perhaps in line with what Paul said in Romans 14 about not putting ‘a stumbling block’ (v13) in the way of a fellow Christian — see Romans 14:15). The rules relating to food (perhaps including blood) were later relaxed — see Rom.14:3,6,20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; and Col.2:16. The transient nature of these rules is also highlighted by Jesus’ words before Acts 15; e.g. Mark 7:18-19. As a result, many Christians believe the rule forbidding the eating of blood has been relaxed. The rule about sexual immorality, however, is reinforced in other parts of the New Testament (e.g. 1Cor.6:9-10).

View 2: Others see the rules as still binding, unless explicitly relaxed later. The rules about food sacrificed to idols is relaxed, as explained in Romans 14:3,6,20 and 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. But there are no such instructions about the other rules, and so they should be considered as still binding.

Almost all meat sold in butchers is drained of blood, so it is easy to avoid eating blood without having to eat kosher or halal meat.

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  • S. Cox

    Perhaps worth noting the attitude of Paul when visiting James in Acts 21. It seems from James’ pointed comments that he was aware that Paul was in fact undermining the Antioch agreement of Acts 15 (whether or not Paul had already written 1 Corinthians 10:25 “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.”) and the invitation by James for Paul to pay for the shaving of the Jewish brethren’s heads was an invitation to Paul to show good faith. This would suggest that both James and Paul were willing to agree to leave such issues to local context.

    Acts 21:17-26
    When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, [3] and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

  • Grahame Grieve

    The original prohibition goes back to Noah. It’s as reasonable to suppose that the general comments about food don’t include eating blood as that they do (on the grounds that it’s not actually food!). So I would not choose to eat blood for this reason.

  • Luke Buckler

    I’ve been looking some more into this and I’m interested in A.D. Norris’ commentary in ‘Acts and Epistles’. I’ll try and get my hands on a copy again.

  • Walter

    It seems very clear to me what the Apostles in the early church had to say about it. Being as the original is closest to correct, I would be inclined to agree with the Apostles. Acts 15:28, 29.

  • Grant Hall

    The restrictions given on eating blood hae been given under ALL covenants of the Bible. God first gave it to Noah, and therefore to every human that has ever lived, he then gave to the Israelites. It is repeated again and again in the Law. Then regarding Gentile believers, under the New Covenant, the HOLY SPIRIT Himself declared that we are forbidden to eat meat with blood in it! The contexts of Acts 15, is Gentiles, Law, and Salvation! The Law was then given at the END of Paul’s ministry about 5 years before he was killed, just before being taken prisoner in Jerusalem.

    The Law on eating food Sacrificed is in NO WAY “relaxed” Jesus HIMSELF Forbids this is Revelation, and condemns anyone who teaches others to they can eat it. Any food, that you are aware of, that has been sacrificed to idols is Forbidden!

    He that says, “I know [God]“, and keeps not His Commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4

    Wake up! Do you not know that Christ will not return until there has been a great falling away? Salvation is not a prayer, it is a lifestyle of Faith working thru Love, it is one of Obedience and Holiness, if you do not obey God you will NOT inhereit salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9).

  • ino

    If for no other reason than the distinction of God’s holy people from the unholy, Christians should not eat blood or blood pudding type products. Sanguinarians distinguish themselves by the peculiarity of ingesting blood. Christians are not to be (literal) sanguinarians.

    The only blood that Christians ought intake is that of Christ– and He, when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, used wine as a symbol of His blood. The life of the flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11) and His life was to be poured out as the perfect Passover sacrifice for the sins of humanity. As He has commanded, we do so in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:24). We partake of His holy blood through the Lord’s Supper sacrament and no other blood should ever a Christian ingest!

  • Martin Asare

    the deitary laws instituted for Isreal were ceremonial, intended to set them apart from the nations as holy people. these laws distinquished between jew and gentile. However with the coming of christ these laws were invalidated by his death and the formation of a new body, in which both jews and gentiles (Eph 2) are now made members of the same household. HOwever the law regarding eating blood, given prior to the law to Noah and for that matter humanity ( Gen 9:3-5) was one given as a moral law. The reaon given was that life is in the blood hence eating blood is to eat life. This is moral. in Acts when the apostle will rectify the issue of christians and jewish laws, this one was excluded as still binding and sinful as imorality ( Acts 15:19-21). Thus it still is binding on Christians even us.

  • Elul205770@gmail.com

    re: “Almost all meat sold in butchers is drained of blood, so it is easy to avoid eating blood without having to eat kosher or halal meat.” I raise cattle and cut meat. No non-kosher or halel meat is completely drained of blood. The capillaries, arterioles, venules, arteries, and veins still have blood in them. The only way to get the blood out of them is to cover them in course salt for a period. This is why salting is part of the koshering process and was mandatory of all meat sacrifices/offerings (Korbanos)

  • PatrickEB

    The big issue is that it does not discuss degrees or quantity. It is an absolute.

    Regardless of what measures you take, you cannot remove all the blood from any animal before you eat it. There is no research evidence to show you can – please quote research otherwise, not someone who has ‘experience’ or ‘opinions’.

    Therefore you are either arguing degrees or absolutes. Given the absolute is not possible, you must be arguing degrees and appearances.

    • Jon Morgan

      That is not an issue: it’s just the way language works. Almost any absolute statement can be taken to extremes, but any ordinary person will not do so when reading or hearing it. The principle from the law about eating of blood was clear: the life was in the blood, so they were not to eat the life. I think you would need good reason to think that one drop of blood in an inaccessible spot broke the rule when a person had carefully followed the law in good faith to avoid eating the life.

  • Nick1066

    Practically speaking (and I mean no disrespect) does this mean no rare steaks?

    • Jonathan Morgan

      Personally, I would avoid them.  But I think to a fair extent it depends on how an individual interprets the command and what their motive is in eating.  It could mean almost anything from “Just avoiding eating blood directly (e.g. black pudding)” to “Take reasonable measures to ensure that you get out all blood you possibly can before eating”.

    • Josh G.

      Cooking a steak more doesn’t “cook out” the blood left in it, it just cooks it. It really doesn’t make a difference as long as you give your meats a chance to drain properly.

  • Sharon

    Easy to remove the blood.. so they use bleach do they because other wise there is still blood.. I think I will just obey God and not eat blood..because I know what it takes to really remove blood, anyone who has tried to remove a blood stain from a shirt knows blood is almost impossible to remove even with bleach.. so you may fool yourselves but you can not fool God with such foolishness as hanging it upside down to drain the blood.