Matthew 15:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 15:19, NIV: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."

Matthew 15:19, ESV: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander."

Matthew 15:19, KJV: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:"

Matthew 15:19, NASB: "'For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders."

Matthew 15:19, NLT: "For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander."

Matthew 15:19, CSB: "For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander."

What does Matthew 15:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus has rejected the Pharisee's unscriptural rule that a person must perform ritual handwashing before eating. He has not required His disciples to practice this, and He seems not to do it, either. In explaining Himself, Christ rejected the faulty assumption behind the ritual: that the sin came from the food, or the substance, itself (Matthew 15:10–11).

In contrast, Jesus said it is not what goes into a person through his or her mouth that makes that person spiritually unclean. It's what comes out of their mouths—meaning their words—which reveals the uncleanness in their hearts. Food that is swallowed can never touch the soul or spirit of a person to truly defile him or her. In fact, food cannot defile us because we are already defiled, as our words reveal. This is in keeping with Jesus' earlier teachings about the laws given by God (Matthew 5:17–19). Those rules are meaningful because they point to our own intentions, not shallow legalism (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28).

Jesus provides a list of examples of defilement that reside in human hearts. It is not meant to be exhaustive; there are far more sins than just these. The list includes evil thoughts, murder, and adultery. Jesus refers to sexual immorality of any kind using the Greek term porneia. He also refers to theft, lying about other people's actions, and slander. This is what lives in human hearts and is revealed by the words we speak.

Matthew has quoted Jesus earlier in this book as saying that people are evil (Matthew 7:11). Here He is confirming that this is reality. We are defiled on the inside already. Sin is not a chemical reaction to the food we eat. It's a spiritual condition of the choices we make, driven by the evil in our hearts. Paul will echo Jesus in declaring this universal condition when he later writes that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).

Jesus is not saying the dietary restrictions in the Law of Moses don't matter. Jesus kept the Law perfectly. Those restrictions were given to Israel to set them apart from the other nations. The point is that pork or other foods are not "evil substances." Avoiding these was meant to be a way for Israel to live in submission to God. Not eating them, though, did not keep human hearts from being sinful. That was the unsolvable human condition that Jesus had come to solve.