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“But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”—Acts 28:22


"Abstain from Blood" – Noachian? Jewish? Christian? Or all of the above? The Underlying Principle

As is the case with all laws of God in all time periods, there are principles at work which govern the laws. One would be hard pressed to think of any law at any given time which did not have a principle behind it. Sometimes the principle is ambiguous in the sense that there may be one or more possibilities as to which principle is the governing one, but always, there is a principle, which means there is always a principle behind the law, a REASON for the law. God does not arbitrarily invent laws for the purpose of having a law, but only for the purpose of upholding a principle.

And naturally, when it comes to God's principles, they do not change. God's principles are a constant in his dealings with mankind, no matter what time period we live in.

Jesus Christ proved this to be true when he isolated the two main "principles" that give cause to all God recorded by means of the prophets and the Law:

Matthew 22:37-40: He said to him: "'You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.' 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second, like it, is this, 'You must love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets."

We have already seen that life and blood were considered to be sacred to God. They were his property and not to be treated lightly or indiscreetly. This is readily apparent by what was stated to both Noah and Moses concerning blood being the "soul" which is the "life" of the living animal or human.

Since all laws have an underlying principle to them, a principle that does not change, the question needs to be asked: What was the underlying principle in regard to not eating the blood of the animal along with the flesh? In each "dispensation," pre-Law, Law and Christianity, we have a command which boils down to "abstaining from blood." Understanding the underlying principle helps us a great deal in understanding exactly what is meant by the phrase "ABSTAIN from blood." This will also help us to see the error of the following claim referred to in "Pre-Law Society and the Apostolic Decree":

The laws on blood found in the scriptures, whether Noachian, Mosaic or Apostolic only forbid the "eating" of blood for food, but did not specifically forbid the taking of the blood into the body as BLOOD, rather than food. Since the scriptures do not differentiate that aspect, this view holds that it should be up to the individual Christian whether or not they could accept blood as "blood," either in its whole state or in regard to its major components, being red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma.

In response to this, let's consider the following:

It was certainly not because God viewed blood to be evil that he forbid it to be eaten and commanded it to be abstained from. But rather, as in the case of both Noah and Moses, he put it on an even scale, the blood with LIFE, with the SOUL of the being. He specifically tells Noah that the blood is the soul. He even refers to man's LIFE in verse 5 as man's BLOOD:

Genesis 9:3-7: Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for YOU. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to YOU. 4 Only flesh with its soul—its bloodYOU must not eat. 5 And, besides that, YOUR blood of YOUR souls shall I ask back. From the hand of every living creature shall I ask it back; and from the hand of man, from the hand of each one who is his brother, shall I ask back the soul of man. 6 Anyone shedding man's blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God's image he made man. 7 And as for YOU men, be fruitful and become many, make the earth swarm with YOU and become many in it."

So rather than evil, he regarded it on a par with life, a most SACRED possession. No one can successfully deny that blood was equated with the soul in the Noachian Decree and in the Mosaic Law:

Leviticus 17:10-14: "'As for any man of the house of Israel or some alien resident who is residing as an alien in YOUR midst who eats any sort of blood, I shall certainly set my face against the soul that is eating the blood, and I shall indeed cut him off from among his people. 11 For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for YOU to make atonement for YOUR souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul. 12 That is why I have said to the sons of Israel: "No soul of YOU must eat blood and no alien resident who is residing as an alien in YOUR midst should eat blood." 13 "'As for any man of the sons of Israel or some alien resident who is residing as an alien in YOUR midst who in hunting catches a wild beast or a fowl that may be eaten, he must in that case pour its blood out and cover it with dust. 14 For the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood by the soul in it. Consequently I said to the sons of Israel: "YOU must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off."

Life is sacred, no one will deny, and God viewed blood as the LIFE and likewise sacred. Its sacred value is proven by the fact that it paid the price of LIFE in the atonement of sin. God accepted the "blood" instead of the "life" that was actually owed by the human who had sinned. It was a most sacred fluid and solely within the jurisdiction of God as to its use. This sacredness is what established the precedent for the atoning value of Christ's own blood for the sake of all mankind. This is testified to by many, many scholars. For further information concerning those scholars, see the previous article entitled "Pre-Law Society and the Apostolic Decree."

So as to whether the Apostolic Decree was based upon Noah's society or the Jewish Law society, in regard to the underlying principle, we would have to say both. Not one or the other but both. Therefore, when the apostles referred to these abstentions, the underlying principles behind these abstentions were the same underlying principles as were present with both Noah and Moses. Blood is sacred, it is God's possession and not to be used in any way not divinely demonstrated.

The only biblical usage for blood ever presented was in regard to atonement and whatever handling of the blood was necessary to facilitate that atonement. As is discussed in the previous article entitled "Law, Mercy, and the Question of Property," the only other possible use is for the extraction of fractions which are not considered blood, to be shared with humans for the purpose of sustaining life, and even that is uncertain and left to the conscience decision of the individual Christian. For more information concerning that, please see the referenced article above.

Therefore, whether Noachian or Mosaic in origination, the true underlying origin of the laws concerning blood are based upon the principle that blood is the sacred symbol of life/soul and belongs only to God. Therefore, as humans, as is the case with all sacred things, we must not presume upon the property of God, his sacred possessions, and take that property for our own use without permission or without some indication of allowance from a divine source. We have seen as in the case of Saul's men who were starving and near death, even then, it was a sin to not take regard for God's law to pour it onto the ground, rather than allow it to be used to save their life.

Therefore, blood transfusions, using blood as blood and/or using blood as food, regardless of that distinction, would be a violation of God's property and the sanctity of blood because God has never sanctioned the use of blood in that manner. Only for atonement, and POSSIBLY, only for the extraction of fractions to sustain the life of the human as happens within the divine arena of the womb between the mother and the child.

If there is no precedent otherwise for the use of blood, then there is no allowance in the life of a Christian to use blood otherwise.

(Due to the questions, objections and viewpoints that are generated in response to this teaching by Jehovah's Witnesses, please see the section "Blood: Point/Counterpoint" included for the purpose of continuing to address those issues as they arise.)

Next article: Abstaining from Blood by Al Kidd

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Added: November 27, 2007. Copyright © 1997 by Jehovah's Witnesses—Setting the Record Straight. All rights reserved. This web site is not affiliated with or sanctioned by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. However, every effort has been made to adhere to the current views published by the "faithful and discreet slave" (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42) through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The "Official Web Site of Jehovah's Witnesses" can be found at, and should be recognized as the authoritative source about the beliefs, teachings, and activities of Jehovah's Witnesses.